Liverpool needs new train station for high speed Manchester link - Metro Mayor
Steve Rotheram claims Liverpool Lime Street is already ‘absolutely rammed’ and couldn’t cope with a Northern Powerhouse Rail link.
Connectivity between the Liverpool City Region and the wider north has been under intense scrutiny since the Prime Minister confirmed last month he would move ahead with the decision to cancel the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2. As part of plans mooted in 2019 as Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR), £12bn was offered to Liverpool and Manchester to improve connectivity between the two cities.
However, Mayor Steve Rotheram has poured cold water on the plan’s viability, claiming a whole new major transport hub would need to be found in the city to get trains on the tracks.
NPR was promised in the Conservatives’ 2019 election manifesto as a high-speed rail connecting the major towns and cities of the north. Around 50 miles were initially designed to use track shared with HS2 but NPR plans were subsequently downgraded.
Mr Rotheram told a session of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s overview and scrutiny committee about how he had a public spat with Grant Shapps, former transport secretary, over the proposed funding and questioned if it would deliver what is required. He said: “We don’t know if that quantum of funding is going to be enough.
“It’s not scheduled until 2041, we don’t know what inflation will be and how that figure will erode over that period. It’s a mouthwatering sum, if someone says here’s £12bn, you’re not going to go ‘I’m not interested’ it’s massive, but we don’t know whether it’ll do the job.
“We don’t know whether the station at (Manchester) Piccadilly is part of the £12bn allocation, because if it is, that’s expected to be around £6bn.”
When the HS2 cancellation was confirmed, Mr Rotheram said it would leave the north ‘powerless’ and claimed promises of NPR were ‘false.’ On the city’s capability to deliver rail infrastructure, the Metro Mayor outlined the logistical challenges it would face.
He said: “We’ve got to find a new station, to position it somewhere in Liverpool, because Lime Street is absolutely rammed. In fact, they took out the old Virgin departure lounge and put two new platforms in alongside that, so there’s nowhere for us to go in Lime Street.
“If we want East-West connectivity and Northern Powerhouse Rail, there’s nowhere we can go, so we have always needed a new station. If you take that out of the £12bn alongside the bit for Manchester, then what are you left with, given we’ve got that gap where HS2 infrastructure was originally envisaged.”
The former Labour MP also raised concerns about a potential 18 year wait for funding to upgrade the region’s connectivity. He said: “All of this is jam tomorrow, it’s the future, 2041 in all honesty some of us of my age would be happy to be alive, never mind to be sitting scrutinising whoever the Metro Mayor at that time might be.
“It’s not what we need now, what we need now is support to create the London-style integrated public transport system that we need.”